Over the past week, the biotech and pharmaceutical community has responded to the October 7 terrorist attack on Israel.
“The tragic loss of life in the brutal terrorist attacks by Hamas on Jewish civilians in Israel was horrific, and the ongoing violence across Israel is a tragedy. Biotechnology strives to create a world of greater hope, health, and prosperity,” said Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) CEO Rachel King. “We are deeply saddened and dismayed when people pursue different values and embark on a path of violence and bloodshed. We hope for the release of hostages, the safety of all civilians affected by the conflict, and the return of peace to the region.”
Other biotech industry companies and CEOs have likewise issued statements and taken to social media to express their dismay and outrage and reaffirm their commitment to saving lives.
Here is a sampling of what the biotech industry is saying about Israel.
Pfizer takes action
“I’m heartbroken to hear the terrible news of war in Israel and grief-stricken by the loss of life, the threat to safety, and the fear and uncertainty that has invaded our shared community. At Pfizer, we are committed to protecting and saving lives, and dedicated to the health and well-being of people around the world. Actions that are geared towards inflicting bloodshed, harm and death are antithetical to our work and to our values. My heart goes out to our Pfizer colleagues in Israel,” Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla posted on LinkedIn soon after the attack.
“It is not enough to condemn these actions—we ourselves must take action,” he posted on October 12.
“The Pfizer Foundation has launched a donation campaign to support several key organizations that are working to provide critical emergency assistance in the region, and Pfizer will match all colleague donations made through this campaign. The Pfizer Foundation is also in active discussions with our partner NGOs on the ground to determine if additional financial support is required. And we continue to work with our global network of humanitarian and logistics partners to assess the need for medicines and vaccines, and are ready to provide support where needed,” continued Bourla.
BIO leaders speak out
In addition to BIO CEO Rachel King, many of the organization’s leaders are speaking out.
“Tragedy in Israel and Gaza: I, and my colleagues in the biotech industry, are overwhelmed with sadness due to the senseless loss of life and ongoing violence. We unequivocally stand behind the Jewish people and all civilians in harm’s way and hope for a swift return of hostages, as well as de-escalation of the conflict,” said BIO Chair Dr. Ted W. Love, sharing a link to charities providing aid in the crisis.
“As a country and as a business community, there is no room for terrorism or the harming and killing of innocent citizens, anywhere. Our president is clear, and so must we be,” said Nkarta Therapeutics CEO (and past BIO Chair) Paul Hastings.
BIO Vice Chair John Crowley, Executive Chairman of Amicus Therapeutics, shared an eloquent and personal message: “Nobel Peace prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel’s words upon the acceptance of his Nobel in 1986 ring true today: ‘We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.’”
Jeremy Levin, CEO of Ovid Therapeutics (and former BIO Chair), spoke to the Boston Globe about his experience as former president of Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. He’s “part of a group organizing flights back home for hundreds of Israeli reservists now living along America’s eastern seaboard, many working in the tech and life sciences fields.”
Biotech support for Israel
Acorda Therapeutics CEO Ron Cohen, M.D. shared several messages and resources, saying, “Those of us who believe in a positive arc of civilization must indeed take sides: we must choose humanity and progress, while unequivocally expunging those who practice or promote brutality, savagery and immorality.”
“It has been devastating to see the violence of this weekend’s attacks on Israel. Acts of terror against civilians must be condemned in the strongest terms. We stand in solidarity with the people of Israel. Bayer will do everything we can to support our people there and continue to serve the civilian population with medicines and agricultural solutions. During the tension of the days and weeks ahead, I pray for a swift end to the bloodshed and progress toward a lasting peace,” said Bayer CEO Bill Anderson.
Octomera, a cell and gene therapy company based in Maryland, weighed in: “So much beauty and innovation is created in Israel on a daily basis that it is hard to comprehend the depth of devastation of the current events. Our team mourns for the lives being lost and destroyed. We stand with Israel.”
The post was shared by the company’s Israeli subsidiary, Orgenesis Biotech Israel Ltd., asking the world to stand with Israel.
Biotech companies continue operations, steady supply of medicines in the region
Biopharma companies released statements explaining how they will continue operations in the region. They include:
- Bristol-Myers Squibb: The company said it was monitoring the situation in Israel and maintaining a supply of medicines for patients in the region.
- Eli Lilly and Co: The company said it was closely monitoring the evolving situation in Israel and will take all necessary steps to ensure safety of colleagues in and near the affected areas. It is also working to ensure all critical operations remain in place to provide an uninterrupted supply of Lilly medicines to patients in the region.
- Teva Pharmaceutical Industries: The world’s largest maker of generic drugs said production remains largely unaffected and that it maintains contingency plans with backup production locations for key products. Teva said it currently does not expect a meaningful impact on its business or financial and operational performance. The company’s sales in Israel account for just 2% of its global revenue, while production in the country constitutes less than 8% of total global manufacturing in dollars terms.
We will continue to update this list as more statements become available.
More biotech organizations speak out
“Some 300 businesses employing at least 9,000 employees in Massachusetts — particularly in areas such as cybersecurity, data storage, and networking — have ties to Israel, according to the New England-Israel Business Council,” reports the Boston Globe.
“It has been difficult to watch the scenes of terror coming out of Israel this week and I’ve found it hard to find the words, so I am keeping it simple: #StandWithIsrael. This article is a glimpse at the reality for Israel, many of our Israeli friends and colleagues, the #lifesciences sector, and the larger innovation ecosystem here. We have been reaching out to those potentially affected and will continue to look for ways that MassBio can support the victims and their families,” said MassBio President & CEO Kendalle Burlin O’Connell.
Kris Khalil, Executive Director at New Orleans BioInnovation Center & Managing Director at BioFund, shared personal remarks: